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Taliban attacks coalition air base in Afghanistan

KABUL — Taliban forces attacked a large coalition airfield in eastern Afghanistan early Sunday morning, detonating three car bombs near the entrance before sparking a two-hour gun battle that claimed the lives of nine insurgents, three Afghan security guards, and at least four civilians caught in the crossfire, Afghan officials said.

Disguised in coalition military uniforms, Taliban fighters attempted to enter the base after the initial suicide bombings, which took place just before 6 a.m., but were repelled by a battery of coalition firepower that included helicopter gunships, officials said.

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The confrontation wounded fewer than 10 coalition service members, according to official reports, though by late Sunday it remained unclear exactly how many had been hurt or how severely.

At least one member of the Afghan military was killed in the fighting.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the operation, claiming to have killed ‘‘tens’’ of foreign forces, though the insurgents routinely overstate the deadliness of their attacks.

But the coordinated assault, which left the entry to the base strewn with the bloody remains of the bombers, was a potent reminder of the Taliban’s determination to continue the fight.

The base, known as Forward Operating Base Fenty, is primarily American and is one of the larger airfields in eastern Afghanistan. Like other large coalition bases in the country, Fenty has been attacked before, including in February.

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